3 Good

Mumbai is proud to be the only place in the world to have a national park in the city limits. However, this world record comes with its set of challenges as well. Reports of leopards and other wild animals entering into human habitat have become very common. Humans are to blame for most of these man v/s animal conflicts. Forests are being cut down to make way for human settlements. With increasing awareness about this sensitive issue, the incidence of such occurrences should have lessened. However, it’s increasing day by day and more and more residential and commercial projects in forest areas are being okayed by the government. Animals can’t speak language of humans and hence suffer silently. But what if they are able to put their problems across to the lawmakers? This is the idea on which Delhi Safari is based on and turns out to be a decent fare!

The story of the movie: One fine day, Sultan the leopard (Suniel Shetty) is roaming in his home – Sanjay Gandhi National Park – with his cub, Yuvi (Swini Khara) when suddenly he almost gets killed by a giant bulldozer. He runs away from the ‘monster’ and enters a construction site of a residential building, situated within or maybe at the periphery of forest premises. Yuvi gets saved but Sultan is shot dead by the construction supervisor. Yuvi’s mother and Sultan’s mother Begum (Urmila Matondkar) gets a shock and decides to leave the forest immediately. But Yuvi, along with Bajrangi the monkey (Govinda) and Bagga the bear (Boman Irani) convince Begum of not leaving their home and also come up with a plan – the animals should meet the concerned humans at the union ministry in Delhi and voice their problems to them. But who’ll communicate with the humans? Enter Alex the parrot (Akshaye Khanna) who is kidnapped from his master, a film director, who can speak human languages and who reluctantly becomes part of the ‘Delhi Safari’.

Delhi Safari’s biggest strength is its writing and characters besides of course, the 3D animation. The story is very relatable and is much-needed in today’s times when man v/s animal conflicts are on the rise not only in Mumbai but throughout the country. The characters, meanwhile, are very cute and adorable and the most appropriate actors were chosen to voice them. Sultan is responsible but fun parent who can easily ‘patao’ Begum whenever she’s cross with him. Begum is courageous but protective about Yuvi and security of her family comes first. Bajrangi speaks in Bhojpuri, wants to eliminate Alex and is surrounded by two good for nothing sidekicks. Bagga is the gentle giant who initially joins the safari just because his friends told him to do so but later gets passionate about the cause. And lastly, Alex, my favourite, is a small little thing but with hidden agendas! One falls in love with these characters instantly and one can’t help but root for them as they head to Delhi!

But on the flipside, the direction isn’t upto the mark and is unnecessarily stretched in the first half. The climax seems hurried and not that convincing. But somehow, makes an impact thankfully. The 3D animation is good but not great – we had seen better animation quality in Yash Raj Films’ Roadside Romeo!

As aforementioned, the actors do their job great when it comes to doing the voiceovers. Urmila, Suniel, Boman, Govinda, Akshaye and also Prem Chopra (Kaalia Ustad) – everyone was topnotch. Best for me, as I said, was Akshaye Khanna! It could have gone wrong as parrots usually aren’t given a ‘manly’ voice. But Akshay suits the voice of the tota to the T! Moreover, there is a Gujju flamingo couple which was fun as well!

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s music was strictly okay. Title song was the best track of the lot and escalates impact whenever played in the film. Dialogues are interesting and the best one has to be ‘What a chick!’. Funniest scene of the film, without doubt! However, few dialogues could have been a more ‘kid-friendly’ and funnier. Also, references to films like Guide and Laawaris doesn’t work in a film primarily targeted at kids. Nikhil Advani’s direction is brilliant at many places. Alex’ entry was terrific and the best entry for any character in recent times! The movie does have interesting nuances here and there (the ‘living with nature and harmony’ advertisement board for the residential project in the forest; flamingoes listening to the radio in an abandoned car; animals secretly watching news at the forest officer’s house). The film surely could have been much more entertaining if the flaws were taken care of. But a great effort overall nevertheless!

On the whole, Delhi Safari is fun entertainer that also doles out some real important lessons. The animation is great though not at par at global standards. The film has fetched a poor opening all over and this was expected – there was absolutely no buzz for the film thanks to not-so-great-publicity strategy. In Hollywood, actors who voice the animated characters go all out to ensure their film generates excitement. But Bollywood personalities fail to do so. It was seen first in Roadside Romeo and now repeated in Delhi Safari. Hence, despite being a great film for kids and released at the apt time (Diwali vacation), Delhi Safari will fail to mark at the box office. Very unfortunate!